After the expansion draft protection lists were revealed yesterday, I wrote on Twitter that DC United is probably the first team in the history of sports to leave two former league MVPs unprotected in an expansion draft. If anyone cares to research the entire history of expansion drafts, feel free, but the point is that there's a lot of talent available to be drafted this year.
I plan on putting together a full list of who I would select if I was Philadelphia's GM either tonight or tomorrow, but looking particularly at the players DC United left exposed, something jumped out at me. The common perception among fans seems to be that one of either Andrew Jacobson, Devon McTavish, or Boyzzz Khumalo will be selected by the Union. But I think we're overlooking a very different possibility.
Why not Emilio?
Luciano Emilio has scored 41 league goals in the last three years, and he's the only unprotected player to score 10 or more goals in 2009. In fact, he's one of only five unprotected players to ever score 10 or more goals in a season. But three of them (Eskandarian, Noonan, and Guevera) haven't done it since 2004, and the fourth (Razov) is five years older than Emilio and coming off a zero-goal season. If I'm the Philadelphia Union, I don't want my top forward to be some project that I'm going to have to wait on to develop. I want a proven scorer. Emilio is just that.
The arguments against Emilio have been age and salary. Age? The dude's only 30! He's three years younger than Juan Pablo Angel, and I haven't heard anybody complaining about him being too old.
And sure, Luciano Emilio comes with a heavy price tag, but that's to be expected for a player that has scored 10 or more goals in every season in MLS. Maybe Philadelphia wants to build their team exclusively around nothing but low priced players. Or maybe their owners have told Nowak not to worry about money, and has given him permission to acquire whatever players will deliver the most victories. Hmm…
It's hard to say what the Union will do. At least with the Sounders last year we had some indication of their needs and desires prior to the draft because they had already signed a few players (Keller, Ljunberg, Le Toux, and Naissey IIRC). But if I was the Union's Team President, I would select a mixture of young promising players and proven veterans.
I would select Luciano Emilio. Would you?